Election SecurityNews

Terrorists Attack INEC Office In Southeast Nigeria

The attack on facilities belonging to Nigeria's electoral body in Southeast Enugu State led to the destruction of 748 ballot boxes, 240 voting cubicles, which could undermine or lead to less participation in the 2023 general elections.

Burnt INEC office at Enugu State. Photo: INEC/Twitter

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says terrorists destroyed 748 ballot Boxes and 240 voting cubicles when terrorists burnt the Commission’s office in Igboeze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, Southeast Nigeria, on Sunday, July 3.

In a statement on Monday, July 4, Festus Okoye, INEC spokesperson, said that the arsonists overpowered the security guards and forced their way into the premises. 

He said no casualties were recorded during the attack but added that the fire destroyed office furniture and equipment despite the best effort of the Enugu State Fire Service deployed from Nsukka. 

“The Commission is working to ascertain the status of voter registration machines for the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR) exercise as well as uncollected Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) locked up in the fireproof cabinet,” Okoye said.

He also said the incident was reported to the Nigeria Police for investigation and further action. 

“The attack, coming in the middle of the voter registration exercise and other preparations for the  2023 General Election, is worrisome,” Okoye said.

HumAngle reported how attacks on INEC facilities deprive residents Of voter registration opportunities. Like Enugu, other states in the Southeast and South-south have recorded several attacks.

INEC said that at least 41 of its offices were attacked by armed non-state actors between Feb. 2019 and May 2021. Regarding the cases, INEC chairman Mahmood Yakubu said Imo State topped the log with the most attacks. 

“Clearly, these acts of unjustifiable aggression may undermine the commission’s capacity to organise elections and dent the nation’s electoral process. The commission facilities are there to serve the local communities for the most fundamental aspect of democratic governance, which is elections,” Yakubu said. 

The trend, however, did not stop after the INEC boss’s outcry. 

The current attacks imply that many affected community residents are denied access to CVR as Nigeria prepares for its next general elections. INEC itself confirmed this in its Election Project Plan (EPP) released in May, where it stresses that physical attacks, kidnapping of its personnel for ransom, and arson attacks on its offices and facilities would affect the registration of voters.

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Adejumo Kabir

Kabir works at HumAngle as the Editor of Southern Operations. He is interested in community development reporting, human rights, social justice, and press freedom. He was a finalist in the student category of the African Fact-checking Award in 2018, a 2019 recipient of the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence, and a 2020 recipient of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award. He was also nominated in the journalism category of The Future Awards Africa in 2020. He has been selected for various fellowships, including the 2020 Civic Media Lab Criminal Justice Reporting Fellowship and 2022 International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) 'In The Name of Religion' Fellowship.

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